Children’s stationery brand, Smiggle, drives profit growth for parent, Premier Investments

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Children’s stationery brand Smiggle is continuing to prove that the power of the pen knows no bounds, after its rapid UK expansion was singled out as a key factor behind an FY15 $88.1m net profit for owner Premier Investments.

Premier Investments (who also owns Australian based retail brands Just Jeans, Peter Alexander, Portmans, Jay Jays, Jacqui-E and Dotti) released its results to the Australian financial markets and cited Smiggle’s successful UK growth as a large contributing force, where 26 recently opened stores will grow to 40 by the end of the year.

The group also announced plans to take Smiggle into Scotland, Wales, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Smiggle prides itself on delivering original, fun and wholesome products for children, from pencils and pens, to backpacks, lunchboxes and drink bottles, and through to ‘must-have’ gadgets and gizmos.

A broad range of innovative items – in a host of striking colours – underpin the Smiggle brand proposition, which is increasingly the talk of the playground, and this week, the financial markets.

Smiggle is not the biggest division in the Premier Investments stable but it is the fastest growing, with full-year sales coming in at 26%. They accelerated to 36% in the second half.

Smiggle bucks a general trend amongst Australian retailers in succeeding in taking its products offshore.

Sheffield-born managing director John Cheston has managed to tap into a niche market and position the Smiggle brand to snare a strong chunk of the $2.4bn personal stationery category in Britain. Smiggle continues to flag up to 200 stores over five years in the region.

Cheston said: “Smiggle has played a key role in Premier Investments’ overall results, with sales up 26% and 24 stores up and running in the UK within the financial year.

“We genuinely believe that this is an unparalleled success story and something to be celebrated, not least when an extra 16 stores are planned to open before Christmas.

“”It is all about understanding your business, the business opportunities and if you have the right model. We are growing organically and geographically. We are well capitalised and the payback for some of these stores is very quick.”

Smiggle will expand into to Wales, Scotland, Hong Kong and Malaysia within the next 14 months.

Cheston added: “Smiggle will be a significant profit driver to the group over the next five years with potential for 200 stores (in the UK) and sales in excess of $200 million.

“Smiggle is delivering on its potential as a truly unique global brand and we couldn’t be happier with our expansion efforts in the UK.

Cheston believes there is scope to open Smiggle stores in other parts of Europe after seeing strong demand from countries such as France and Germany on Smiggle’s new UK-based online store.